Elevated cholesterol in adults is common. High cholesterol increases the risk for heart disease, so you are wise to make healthy changes to help lower your blood cholesterol.
Here are a few key nutrition recommendations when it comes to lowering or managing cholesterol:
- Focus on whole foods – like fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains. Eat a variety of these nutrient-rich foods to ensure your diet contains vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients your body needs.
- Reduce the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet. Replace full-fat dairy foods with low-fat or fat-free milk and dairy. When eating out, avoid fried foods, high-fat meats, such as regular ground beef, sausage, bacon and hot dogs. Instead, choose foods that are baked, broiled, roasted grilled or steamed. You can also choose lean meats, such as white meat chicken or turkey. Remember that many baked goods in restaurants are made with butter or shortening, which contain a significant amount of saturated fat.
- Remove trans fats from your diet, as these may increase blood cholesterol levels: Trans fats are found in foods made with partially hydrogenated oils. They are often found in cookies, crackers, muffins, chips, French fries, and stick margarine. Make sure to read food labels. Avoid foods that contain more than zero grams of trans fat on the Nutrition Facts label or include the word “hydrogenated” on the ingredients.
- Eat more omega-3 fatty acids. Foods high in the fatty acids which are healthy include fish like salmon, tuna and sardines. Vegetarian alternatives include walnuts, flaxseed, and oils made from canola and soybeans.
Increase the fiber in your diet. Choose whole grains whenever possible, including whole wheat bread, brown rice, oats, quinoa, barley and bulgur. Fruits and vegetables are not only low in calories and contain lots of vitamins and minerals, but they are also excellent sources of fiber.
- Exercise is important. Plan to get 30 minutes of exercise on most days, and talk to your health care team about what types of physical activity are right for you.
More questions? Meet with a registered dietitian to discuss a custom diet plan that is right for you. Managing your cholesterol doesn’t have to mean giving up eating out at restaurants.